With the national focus on the newly identified variant of Omicron, New Jersey hospitals are seeing a sharp increase in cases of the still-dominant Delta strain.
Numbers shared by Governor Phil Murphy reflect a nearly 20% increase in COVID hospital admissions across the country for two straight weeks. In particular, that number increased 22% between November 15-22 and 18% between November 22-29.
“We still register well over a thousand new confirmed cases in a day, and our hospital stays have risen sharply in the past few weeks,” Murphy said Monday. “Our numbers are still fueled by the Delta variant.”
The upswing has not resulted in any immediate changes in hospital policy, particularly in relation to elective surgery. Murphy called cutting such operations “draconian” and said there was no sign that the state should take this step anytime soon.
➡️950 patients in our hospitals (906 confirmed COVID-positive, 44 people under investigation)
193 patients in our intensive care units
➡️99 ventilators in use
➡️88 patients discharged
143 COVID-positive patients enrolled
➡️9 deaths in hospital pic.twitter.com/KN27m3qIaM
– Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) November 29, 2021
“I had surgery for cancer and found out later – for a malignant tumor – later found out that it would have been considered an elective, which I didn’t see as an option. So that’s a pretty draconian move, and we’re not “removed,” said the governor.
The state’s Department of Health monitors the Omicron variant through PCR testing and virus sequencing. While it doesn’t need to be discovered yet, Murphy reiterated many public health officials who believe the new variant is already in the US
“We have to be ready now, awaiting this variant that hits us,” he said.
The best way to be prepared, repeated the New Jersey governor and health commissioner, is to get vaccinated. The number of New Jersey residents who have completed a full series of a COVID-19 vaccine has reached nearly 5.9 million.
Murphy didn’t mention the change in masking guidelines for the state, such as the New York City Health Commissioner’s expanded recommendation issued earlier in the day.
“Get vaccinated, and get boosted when you are vaccinated. The additional protection of a booster is no longer a benefit, it’s a necessity, ”he said.
Over the weekend, Murphy received a booster dose of the COVID-19 along with his wife and children. To date, more than 1.2 million booster doses have been administered across the state.